Can dogs eat ice cubes? We checked with a vet

Jack Russell Terrier dog licking an ice cube
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the weather gets warmer, you might be wondering is “can dogs eat ice cubes?”. In the warmer weather, dog owners spend a lot of time exploring different ways to keep your dog happy, safe, and cool.

There are various different ways to help a dog cool down, from laying down cool, damp towels or putting out one of the best dog cooling mats, to ensuring they aren’t playing with their favorite toys for too long – and, of course, making sure that your pup always has access to water. But read on to find out more about giving your dog ice cubes.

Are ice cubes bad for dogs?

Generally, no. As Dr. Hannah Godfrey says, “Ice is a good way to keep your dog occupied, give them a calorie-free treat, and keep them cool all at the same time.

While ice cubes can be good for dogs in the heat, it’s still best to keep an eye on them while they enjoy them, and ensure that they’re the right size for your pup. For a smaller dog, a big ice cube could be a choking risk, for example.

Consider giving smaller dogs and fast eaters smaller ice cubes or ice shavings instead.

Are ice cubes bad for dogs’ teeth?

“Although it’s unusual, since ice cubes are so hard, they can occasionally cause tooth fractures,” explains Dr. Godfrey.

“For this reason, it's a good idea to stay with your dog while they're playing with or eating ice cubes and encourage them to lick instead of chew by giving them larger blocks of ice, containing toys or treats."

So, it's a good idea to supervise your dog and keep an eye on their teeth, but overall it’s looking positive for the ice cubes!

Can ice cubes help with heatstroke?

If your dog has heatstroke – or is showing signs of heatstroke – don’t give them ice. Instead, use water and get in touch with your vet straight away as heatstroke requires urgent treatment. Knowing how to avoid heatstroke in the first place is ideal, but it’s still important to be aware of the symptoms in case it does occur.

Keep an eye out for the following:

• Excessive drooling or panting

• Low energy or lack of coordination

• Red skin or purple gums

• Collapsing

How to make ice cubes tasty for dogs

Let’s face it, as refreshing as a plain ice cube might be, it’s not the tastiest thing in the world. But, there are ways to make ice cubes tasty for dogs.

PetSafe’s Rob Steele recommends adding pet-friendly peanut butter, salmon, lean chicken, or tuna to the ice cube tray. Meanwhile, Dr. Godfrey says, “You can even flavor the ice with cooked meat juices (as long as there’s no fat, herbs, or spices) or salt-free stock cubes to make it more appetizing.”

What alternatives to ice cubes are there?

As well as ice cubes, freezer toys can help keep dogs cool – as well as provide some mental enrichment and stimulation. You could also fill a bowl with a few treats and some low-sodium meat stock, before freezing it. Frozen carrots and apple slices make good snacks, too – just remember to remove any apple cores! Take a look at these frozen dog treats and ice-cream recipes to make for your pooch, too.

Access to fresh water goes without saying, but you could add ice cubes to it to keep the water chilled, or consider using a pet water fountain. Lay down a cool, damp towel for your pup to lie down on, or use a spray bottle of water.

“Take it slowly and gently,” advises Steele. “Try the first few squirts away from him to gauge his reaction, as some dogs may be scared. But pretty much all of them would love a paddling pool to splash around in to stay cool.” We’ve rounded up the best swimming pools for dogs this summer.

In general, ice cubes are great when it comes to keeping our dogs cool. But safety should always come first – keep an eye on your pup, and make sure the ice cubes aren’t too big for them. And, if you’re concerned about heatstroke, always consult your vet as soon as possible.

PetSafe Chilly Penguin

PetSafe Chilly Penguin

Fill the penguin with food, peanut butter or water and pop in the freezer to keep your dog entertained, cool and refreshed all at once.

Available in two sizes.

Nylabone Chill & Chew Freezer Toy

Nylabone Chill & Chew Freezer Toy

Ideal for puppies, this chew toy is lamb/apple flavor and changes color as it freezes to show when it’s ready.

Expert comment from
Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS
Expert comment from
Dr Hannah Godfrey

Dr Hannah Godfrey studied Veterinary Medicine at the Royal Veterinary College London. After graduating in 2011, Dr Godfrey went on to become a veterinary surgeon, conducting surgery consultations on a range of animals at a small independent practice in Cardiff, South Wales, UK. Dr Godfrey has a strong interest in soft tissue surgery. When she’s not helping animals back on their feet, Dr Godfrey writes a number of veterinary and animal-focussed articles.

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Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at DogTime.com, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.

With contributions from